Three of Swords

Three of Swords

Three of Swords

The Three of Swords represents heartache and emotional turmoil. It acknowledges the weight of betrayal and painful truths. When this card appears, it signals a time in which we are struggling to overcome profound disillusionment. A palpable sense of loss is etched into the very fabric of our daily life. Loneliness, trauma, and the bitter sting of betrayal cast their silhouettes upon this card. 

Amid various depictions of the Three of Swords card, we see three piercing swords cast against stormy skies. This is a poignant representation of grief, sorrow, and disillusionment. But these symbols also carry another vital message: In adversity, we unearth the resilience of our spirit and the transformative power of pain. The Three of Swords is a testament to the deep connection between heartbreak and growth, teaching us to find solace in the act of healing.

3 of Swords Reversed

The Three of Swords tarot card reversed signals a gradual mending of emotional wounds. While residual pain might linger for some time, the gut-wrenching pain of heartache loosens it’s grip. This reversal invites you to seek closure, forgiveness, and release from past hurts. This is a period of healing and renewal, allowing the heart time to mend. The stormy clouds of sorrow are beginning to disperse, offering a glimmer of hope and the promise of brighter days ahead.


“I embrace the healing journey, finding strength in releasing old wounds and allowing my heart to mend.”

3 of swords reversed

3 of Swords Zodiac Sign

The zodiac sign of Libra is associated with the Three of Swords tarot card.

3 of Swords Love

In matters of love, the Three of Swords tarot card reveals the enduring ache of of a broken heart, and urges us toward caution and reflection. It warns against the danger of denial and the inability to face painful truths we may be avoiding. We must be willing to truly see our relationships as they are, rather than what we wish them to be. When dealing with a painful break up, this card reminds us that even in heartache, there’s an opportunity to learn and rebuild. In time, we can find a renewed and deeper love within ourselves and with others.

3 of Swords Yes or No

In a Yes or No reading, the Three of Swords can generally be interpreted as a No.

Three of Arrows - Three of Swords -Tarot - Alina Vilchenko via Pexels - cco
Photo by Alina Vilchenko via Pexels – cco

Minor Arcana Symbolism

Tarot Card NameThree of Swords
Card Number EnergySynthesis
Numerological MeaningCreation, manifestation, community, growth, connection, expansion, birth, rebirth, artistry, chronology, generation, variability, communication, individuation, action, process, relationships, cycles, expression, vitality
Classical ElementAir
Traditional Upright MeaningHeartbreak, betrayal, misunderstandings, tears, unhappiness, disorder, confusion, upheaval, distraction, conflict, disillusionment, depression, ill-health, absence, emotional pain, rejection, opportunity for healing, sorrow, division, grief, alienation, hurt, painful separation, upset, loss, loneliness, removal, sadness, trauma
Traditional Reversed MeaningForgiveness, overcoming depression, recovery, a light at the end of the tunnel, releasing pain, healing, getting through the worst part, optimism, compromise, acceptance, perseverance, reconciliation, hope, mending a broken heart, suppressing memories, repressing feelings, holding on to negative emotion, stuck in grief, denial
Jungian Personality TypeThinking
ChakraHeart, Root
Astrological CorrespondenceSaturn in Libra
Crystals and StonesEmerald, Olivine, Moldavite, Fluorite, Peridot, Aventurine, Morganite, Zoisite, Bloodstone, Rose Quartz, Chrysolite, Pink Calcite, Jade, Prehnite, Pink Spinel, Malachite, Unakite, Rhodonite, Ruby, Mookaite Jasper, Garnet, Fire Opal, Red Coral, Fire Agate, Red Carnelian, Red Jasper, Brown Tourmaline, Chocolate Opal, Coral, Petrified Wood, Smoky Quartz, Axinite, Carnelian, Dunilite, Black tourmaline, Obsidian, Tahitian Pearl, Apache Tears, Hematite, Onyx, Lodestone, Jet, Black Kyanite, Coal, Shungite, Lava Stone

3 of Swords As Feelings

The Three of Swords evokes the weight of aching sorrow, profound loss, and the heaviness of betrayal. It carries the sensation of being pierced by truths that hurt, revealing vulnerability and raw pain. Yet within this card’s depths lies the potential for transformation. It is tempting to shrink away from such feelings and close yourself off to the world around you. Choosing to face these feelings head-on will lead down a life-affirming path of catharsis and renewal. The energy of this card gives us an opportunity to heal, grow, and find strength amid life’s emotional storms.

Three of Swords Meaning

Tarot Through the Ages

Tarot was originally invented as a card game in the mid 15th century. French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette, also known as “Etteilla”, was the first to assign divinatory meanings to the cards in the late 1700s. Many others have followed in his footsteps, bringing their own unique interpretation of the cards. In our exploration of the Tarot, we weave together contemporary insights with the timeless wisdom of the past. This blending of past and present perspectives offers a more holistic view, allowing us to connect with the evolving narrative and lineage of wisdom that has shaped our understanding of each card over time. Let’s dive into some of these historical interpretations…

Three of Swords Meaning

Sorrow, disappointment, tears. Delay, absence, separation, divorce. Disruption of friendship, interruption of cherished projects, quarrels. Mischief-making acquaintances (although the position in the layout can, instead, suggest Platonic friendships. If so, this is usually a symbol of honesty and fair-dealing in money matters.)


Slander; selfishness and ruin brought on through self-indulgence; deceit with respect to promises; loss in legal affairs.

Time period

Astrologically, the Three of Swords governs the second decanate of Libra, under the rulership of Saturn and Uranus, from October 3rd to October 12th.


The radiant eye in the circle suggests understanding. But it is understanding gained through sorrow.



Modern Translation of The Oracle of the Tarot by Paul Foster Case (1933)

Three of Swords - RWS

The Minor Arcana: Three of Swords

An Alternative Definition for the Three of Swords

Traditionally, Swords are associated with the element air. Below, we see that Thierens has decided to break with tradition by associating the suit of Swords with the element of fire. Mystic Doorway has chosen the traditional correspondence of air for the Three of Swords. Even so, we believe it is important to explore many historical definitions of the cards, allowing each individual the freedom to choose their own path within the journey of Tarot.

Card Definition

Upright: Departure, absence, rupture, delay, division, removal, being-far-away. Aversion, hatred, disgust, etc. Also inconsistency, opposition, unsociable qualities, gruffness, separation, etc.

Reversed: Mental worries, troubles and even alienation. Error, mistake, loss. A nun.


The Earth element in the Third house influences the mind and mental processes, and may manifest as “troubles,” etc., because it creates a sense of burdened thoughts, which can escalate to feeling oppressed. If the burden becomes too overwhelming, this can have severe consequences on either the body or the soul, leading to pain, affliction, or mental instability.

The Three of Swords generally signifies bad news as well, representing a message that brings news of affliction. This card can serve as a corrective to an overly easygoing and fickle imagination. In most cases, it indicates some form of illness resulting from the mental or general feeling of pressure or oppression. It could be the outcome of excessive worry.

The house of Gemini also suggests some suffering on account of distance, separation, or being far apart from others. And the oppressed mind, which cannot have its way, may easily denote the spiritual condition of a nun or some one who takes refuge within the precincts of a monastery. However, in this case, the motives are not of a higher or noble nature. Instead there is resentment, frustration, and bitterness due to unrealized hopes and a lack of idealism. Therefore, this card does not indicate the idealistic form of monasticism.


The Three of Swords card represents the concerns of a lesser kind of mind, including idle gossip, negative thinking, and the struggle of the inferior mind with material concerns and all that can be expected from it.

Modern Translation of the General Book of the Tarot by A.E. Thierens (1930)

hand - water - drowning - loss - grief - sadness Photo by Stormseeker via Unsplash - cco
Photo by Stormseeker via Pexels (CC0)

3 of Swords Tarot


Removal, absence, delay, division, rupture, dispersion, and all that the design signifies naturally, being too simple and obvious to call for specific enumeration. (the design is too straightforward and clear to require detailed explanation of individual symbols).

Reversed: Mental alienation, error, loss, distraction, disorder, confusion.

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

Three of Swords Card Imagery

Three swords can be seen piercing a heart with clouds and rain behind.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

Three of Swords -  Symbolism Infographic

The Lord of Sorrow

Three white radiating angelic hands, emerging from the clouds, hold three swords upright (as though the central sword had struck apart the two others, which were crossed in the preceding symbol). The central sword cuts through the rose with five petals, which previously grew at the intersection of the swords. The rose’s petals are falling and no white rays emanate from it. Above and below the central sword are the symbols of Saturn and Libra.

Symbolism: Disruption, interruption, separation, quarreling; causing discord and strife, mischief, sorrow, and tears; yet finding joy in intellectual pleasures; singing, being faithful to promises, honesty in financial transactions, self-centered and indulgent, but sometimes generous: dishonest in words and repetitions; all according to one’s dignity.

Binah of HB:V (Unhappiness, sorrow, and tears)

Therein rule the great angels HB:HRYAL and HB:HQMYH as lords of the decan. 

Modern Translation of The Tarot of the Golden Dawn: Book “T” by MacGregor Mathers and Harriet Felkin

3 of Swords

3 of Swords

The Meaning of The Three of Swords Card Throughout History

The Tarot deck is a beautiful synthesis of esoteric thought and archetypal imagery. The journey of the deck, shaped by the events and values of each era, has continued to evolve and take on new significance as it adapts to a larger cultural story. Often a tarot card will have a variety of names and meanings. Exploring the historical interpretations of each card will create a deeper understanding of this powerful method for divination and self-discovery.

Various Names For The Three of Swords

The Three of Swords has taken many names throughout history such as Three of Blades, Three of Daggers, Three of Knives, and Three of Spades.

Tarot de Marseille (1650)Three of Swords
Golden Dawn (1888)The Lord of Sorrow
Papus (1892)Three of Swords
Rider-Waite (1910)Three of Swords
Thoth (1943)Three of Swords
3 of Swords yes or no

Significations of The Three of Swords

  • Realization of the enmity. Hatred.

-Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Three of Swords Symbolism

Upright: A Nun, Separation, Removal, Rupture, Quarrel.
Reversed: Error, Confusion, Misrule, Disorder.

-The Tarot by S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1888)

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Bring the Wisdom of the Tarot Into Your Life

We have put together a collection of some of our favorite Tarot items. The deep symbolism of the Tarot can be used to access a wellspring of inner wisdom and guidance. This method of divination is also an incredible tool for accessing your own powerful intuition.

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Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Three of Swords - The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain
Three of Swords – The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain

This guide by Arthur Edward Waite, the designer of the most widely known Tarot deck and distinguished scholar of the Kabbalah, is the essential Tarot reference. The pictorial key contains a detailed description of each card in the celebrated 78-card Rider-Waite Tarot deck, along with regular and reversed meanings. Contents describe symbols and secret tradition, ancient Celtic methods of divination, and wonderful illustrations of each Tarot card. This book is the perfect complement to old-style fortune telling and also serves to make the Tarot entirely accessible to modern-day readers. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is the classic guide to the Rider-Waite deck and to Tarot symbolism in general.

Pre-Raphaelite Tarot

Three of Swords  – Pre-Raphaelite Tarot by Luigi Costa ©2019 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved, used by permission.
Three of Swords – Pre-Raphaelite Tarot by Luigi Costa ©2019 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved, used by permission.

The vivid colors and medieval imagery of the Pre-Raphaelite movement makes for a tarot deck that is rich with a sense of mystery and romance. Luigi Costa has created a work of unsurpassed beauty and deep spiritual power. This deck, based on the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith cards, is at once cryptic and insightful, the perfect combination of qualities for readers and collectors alike.

Golden Botticelli Tarot

Three of Swords - Golden Botticelli Tarot by Lo Scarabeo © 2007 Lo Scarabeo srl, All rights reserved, used by permission.
Three of Swords – Golden Botticelli Tarot by Lo Scarabeo © 2007 Lo Scarabeo srl, All rights reserved, used by permission.

The great work of this Florentine master enlivens this Golden Botticelli Tarot deck with Renaissance flair and grace. Let Botticelli’s timeless art, reproduced here with gold highlights, take you to new dimensions of nature, beauty, and spirituality.

How will you Harness The Transformative Power of The Tarot?

We invite you to walk into a cosmic narrative in which we are all a unique element in each other’s story. Humanity has long used sacred tools for awakening the soul and illuminating our path toward enlightenment. The Tarot is simply an instrument. These cards amplify your inner wisdom and empower your highest truth.

What aspects of The Tarot can serve you as you walk through your own Mystic Doorway?

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What you have read is only the beginning…

Mystic Doorway is always gaining new insight into the rich symbolism of Tarot. We are looking forward to sharing with you as we continue to expand our knowledge of this divinatory tool. Check back with us soon to see what we’ve added to our Library.